The tallest building in Scandinavia


Gothenburg will have its first real skyscraper which also will become the tallest building in Scandinavia. The building will be 245 metres tall and its location at Lindholmen means that its profile will be visible both from the river and the city centre. Ola Serneke, CEO and founder of the Serneke Group, has himself initiated the project.

Ola Serneke had already started working on the project ten years ago. The detailed plan covers a ground area of 32,000 m². The area, known as Karlastaden, a sole development by Serneke is predicted to realise an estimated turnover of SEK 10 billion over 4-5 years.

- It is of course very honouring that we at Serneke have had the opportunity to participate in the development of this prestigious project. My colleague Alban Herlitz and I have been working on this for almost ten years so it is particularly satisfying that we will now be able to start. The whole company feels great pride and confidence, says Ola Serneke.

Karlatornet is part of the district Karlastaden, which in total will consist of 10 blocks with residences, offices, retail space and services. Gothenburg City Council took a decision on Vision Älvstaden in October 2012. The vision shows that the area must be developed in a way that complements the city, abuts the water and strengthens the regional hub. Karlastaden and the skyscraper will be developed in this spirit. The intention is to create a well-integrated part of the city that is ecologically, financially and socially sustainable and is alive day and night, every day of the week.

Architectural competition
Given the size of the construction project, Serneke initiated an architectural competition in consultation with the City Planning Office at Gothenburg City Council and Älvstranden Utveckling AB. The competition is now closed and the US architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, (SOM) are the winners who will design the skyscraper.

SOM is based in Chicago and has designed six of the 15 tallest buildings in the world. This is the first time they will design something in Scandinavia. This is the firm that designed the Hancock Building in Chicago in 1969 (344 metres) and the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa in 2010 (826 metres).

The Pole Star
SOM has named their design The Pole Star. According to the jury, it is "both simple and interest arousing in its design. Using simple techniques, the building varies both vertically and laterally in a play of glass and concrete materials on the façade. It is interesting and intricately shaped."

The jury's reasons
"An identity forming proposal, adopting an integrated hold over both the skyscraper and the urban environment. The design integrates the surrounding environment as a whole and opens up the opportunity of a living city environment. The clear identity of the skyscraper brings character and vitality to Lindholmen and becomes Gothenburg's new landmark and pride."

About Skidmore, Owings & Merill (SOM)
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is a US firm of architects. SOM was founded in Chicago in 1936 as a firm of architects and engineers by Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings. In 1939, John O. Merrill joined the company. The firm opened their first offices in New York in 1937 and has since grown into one of the largest firms of architects in the country specialising in large office buildings. It was SOM that introduced modernistic high-rises with glass façades on a large scale. The firm has designed some of the largest buildings in the world such as the John Hancock Center in Chicago in 1969, Sears Tower in Chicago in 1973 and Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010.

Short facts

Operational category:
Project development / Civil Engineering / Construction
Type of project:
Residential buildings / Office/Commerce
Project status:

Contact person

Fredrik Lindh

Project developer

Kvarnbergsgatan 2, 411 05 Gothenburg